Compendium - More Pieces
Others' Personal Experience


Subject: Why so little Puzzleless IF?
Date: 1999/03/05

Stark wrote:

>>I think it'd be much like telling a blind person, "Well, if you just keep
>>trying to see, eventually you'll be able to. It just takes practice".

Andrew Plotkin wrote:

>I don't think I can respond to that without sounding patronizing. Er,

So go ahead, be patronizing.

I can't see images in my mind. I also have no sense of smell (in the
physical world or in my mind). I didn't realize I had no sense of smell
until I was 14 or so. I didn't realize I couldn't visualize until sometime
as an adult.

Both of these involve a lack of ability to perceive, though one involves
external perception and one involves internal perception. To suggest that
I could learn to visualize seems much the same to me as to suggest that I
could learn to smell things.


Subject: Answer to visualization problem
Date: 3/20/1999

Doeadeer3 wrote:

>> Doe :-) Since the universe is the way I conceptualize infinity.

ok blacke wrote:

>How limiting. ;-)
>I "conceptualize" infinity by looking. Wherever I go, I can always look
>farther, even if it's the edge of the universe. The universe simply expands
>to accommodate my desire to see....

Now that I think about it, the concept of infinity I have (limited though it
must, by nature, be) is more of a _tactile_ concept than of anything else;
I get a vague sensation of the walls of my skull falling away to
accommodate the largeness of the idea.

This makes me think a little... Does anyone actively 'tactualize' when, say,

L. Ross Raszewski

Subject: Answer to visualisation problem
Date: 1999/03/19

Avrom Faderman wrote:
>The canonical visualization problem, as posed by L. Wittgenstein:

>Picture a speckled hen. Get the picture firmly in your mind. Hold it
>still. Look at the hen (in your mind) from front, sides, back, top, bottom.
>Imagine its wings spread. Got it? Know what the hen looks like from all
>angles? Make your picture pretty big, so you can see details.

>Now: Count its speckles.

I'm surprised nobody's done this yet, but,...

It's *my* visualized chicken. I get to decide how many speckles it has.
*Bing!* It has 83 speckles. Divvying them up along the chicken, let's
say top, bottom, neck, top of two wings, and bottom of two wings. 7
approximately equal areas means about 12 speckles each. Randomize,
distribute, count. Yup, 83.

-Lucian (Lucian P. Smith)


Subject: [GENERAL] What's good music to listen while playing (fill in the blank)
Date: 11/16/1999

Unkle84 wrote:

>Does anyone listen to music while playing IF? I feel it sets a theme
>to the game if properly selected.

I don't think I see or hear anything around me when I'm REALLY into a
game, but there's some Scott Joplin stuff at "".
His music renders beautifully to MIDI format.

-- Ricardo (Ricardo Dague)

Subject: Some thoughts on music in IF...
Date: 1997/11/24

Steve Bernard wrote:

>I just thought I'd stick my neck into this thread and remark that Andrew
>Plotkin's recommendation of listening to Eric Bogle while playing "A
>Change in the Weather" worked very well for me.

Oh, good. (Given our population, it was quite possible that the
intersection of IF players and Eric Bogle fans was exactly me.)

> Last month I finally made myself sit down and work through So Far and
> I found the band Low to be the perfect companion.

What kind of music are they?

I still remember the song that was on the radio the night (hour, minute) I
solved _Spellbreaker_. I *still* get unreasonably happy when I hear that
song. (Folk tune, anon., "Old Blue Suit". Absolutely no inherent
connection to Spellbreaker or even to IF in general; it just happened to
be playing.)

--Z (Andrew Plotkin)


Subject: [OT] poor door merry Mary (was- Re: NPC name generation
Date: 1998/09/22

Iain Merrick wrote:

>Yes, the astonishing appendices to _Lord of the Rings_ have a similar
>effect... you read the entire book pronouncing, say, 'Isildur' as
>'IZ-ill-door' (rhyming with 'poor', not 'door'), only to discover that
>the correct pronunciation is 'iss-ILL-dur'.

Hah, here we go again with American pronunciation tricks. I had to
do a double-take before I realized that I've grown up with one of
those accents which pronounces 'poor' and 'door' exactly the same,
instead of using a more distinct u-sound in 'poor.'

I recall a seminar I once took concerning regional dialects and
accents in the U.S. The lecturer took a quick poll, saying, "Here
are three words: Mary, merry, and marry. Raise your hands if
you pronounce them in three distinct ways. Hands up for two
different ways? Hands up if you pronounce them all the same?"

I was one of the all-the-same crowd. Sigh.

J. Robinson Wheeler

Subject: [OT] poor door merry Mary (was- Re: NPC name generation
Date: 1998/09/26

Andrew Plotkin wrote:

>One of you people who pronounce merry/mary/marry the same, please come up
>with an example of words that you pronounce differently, but I pronounce
>the same. :)

Ummm... I don't know if any of these fit the bill, but I'm one of
those people who pronounce merry/mary/marry the same. Here are
some words I do pronounce differently:

     door/poor (dore/poohr)
     stirrup/syrup (stir-up/sear-up)
     err/air/heir (er/ayr/ehr)

My father is from Texas, and he always pronounces "quiet" as
"quite" which drives me crazy.

And my mother-in-law (from Boston) pronounces "drawer" and
"draw" the same.

irene (Irene Callaci)

Subject: [OT] poor door merry Mary (was- Re: NPC name generation
Date: 1998/09/28

Some relatives of mine say "crick" for "creek". I say "crick" at times, but
I spell it "crick" too as I mentally have crick/creek as two separate words.

How about:
    dear/deer (which aren't the same as mirror/ear now that I listen)

(then my grandmother, second generation Danish immigrant, would
sometimes see someone rushing about and comment "he's in a fart")

Darin Johnson


Subject: [All] Writin' Talk Only -- Take Tech Matters Elsewhere
Date: 1998/02/15

The horizon is lost in the glare of morning upon the Great Sea. You
shield your eyes to sweep the shore below, where a village lies
nestled beside a quiet cove.
A stunted oak tree shades the inland road.

Beautiful. Stupendous. A work of art. Has this opening room
description from BZ ever been topped, do you think? Myself, I don't
think so. Mr. Moriarty's prose here seems perfect in every way: in its
form, its functionality, its style, its economy...a true gem of a
passage, in my opinion, demonstrating a facility with the English
language not often seen in i-f.

My one complaint is with the use of the word "beside" instead of
"inside" to describe the village's relationship with the cove. Other
than that...

What do you think? Am I all wet? Why is this passage good, or why does
it suck? And do you have a better one--a favorite piece of i-f prose
that you read over and over just for the joy of it? Then post it here.
Let's talk writing for once, instead of computer instructions!


Subject: Re: Why so little Puzzleless IF?
Date: 1999/03/04

Avrom Faderman wrote:

>>I would have *hated* to see Enchanter (even if we were faced with the
>>decision today) or The Magic Toyshop go unmade...despite the fact that the
>>writing is no equal of the other games I've mentioned.

gregory wrote:

>I'd say that there's a certain amount of overlap between writing and coding.
>'Writing' needn't just mean 'flowery prose in room descriptions';
>the way that The Magic Toyshop feeds you puzzles a couple at a time
>and has an NPC to talk to you while you work them out helps give
>the game atmosphere.

I think over-long prose is as pointless as if it were badly written, or
just boring.

>Take Detective (the first game to feature in the Mystery Science Theatre
>series). It didn't have (serious) coding problems, in the sense of the
>game not doing what the writer had planned. Its room descriptions were
>mostly tolerably-well written. It didn't have any puzzles to speak of,
>but that's not necessarily a flaw. No, its main problem was poor design --
>no plot exposition for a long time, then suddenly lots of things happening
>before you knew it, apparently pointless events, that kind of thing.

True, and I tried to point this out in my "pure" Z-Machine port of the

>It's this planning which bind the whole thing together which is, IMHO,
>the most essential part of any good IF game.

I agree.


Stuart Moore.

Puzzles / Mazes

Subject: Lack of interest in puzzle games?
Date: 2000/01/20

Now, ever since the 80s it seems that people want "puzzleless IF". No "real" mazes. No way to get blocked off from victory. But why?

Recently, Stephen Granade has written an excellent article ( on taking notes when playing. I only do this very rarely, but I agree. I _like_ playing a game, getting drawn into it, even mapping mazes! Just as an example, _Deephome_ contains a _maze_. A real, honest-to-goodness "the only way out of here is to drop objects and map it" maze. Nevertheless, I continued and even starting writing a map of the maze! (Don't ask for it. Even if it's still on my computer and would mean anything to anyone else, I probably wouldn't hand it out.) Boy, I enjoyed it when I finally finished it.

Chad Schultz

Subject: Lack of interest in puzzle games?
Date: 2000/01/21

David Picton wrote:

>I think that people don't necessary want IF to be puzzleless, but they
>have grown tired of puzzles and game features which are unnecessarily
>tedious. I would certainly put large mazes in this category, except
>where the game provides a convenient way to find the right route. The
>novelty of mapping mazes wore off a long time ago! I also find it
>frustrating to discover around turn 4000 that my progress is blocked,
>because of something I failed to do around turn 250.

I'm playing Planescape:Torment right now. I would argue that it certainly
*is* IF, but that's not important to this discussion. What is important is
that it really pisses me off that the game lacks any quick mode of
transportation. I'm having to do a lot of back-and-forth to satisfy
various people

***AHEM*** Well, *THAT* didn't come out right. Let's try again, shall we?

I'm having to run all over the map, getting the Mystical Foo of Baz from
Florble and giving it to Izzy in return for the Mogelschnitzer which you
need to deliver back to Florble. And each time, it's a couple minutes,
realtime, of transiting the map.

And that annoys me.

Adam (Adam J. Thornton)

Food ?

Subject: Of scones and biscuits [Off-topic]
Date: 1998/08/26

Blake Hyde wrote:

>What, pray tell, is a 'scone?' the dictionary says a 'flat cake.' Hmm.
>Never heard of it. Cornbread, yes. Tortillas, yes. Scones, no.

OK. Scones: difficult to describe in terms of something else. Maybe I
should dig up a recipe so people can try them. Basically it's a fairly
dense cake/bread thing, made with wheat-flour, I'm sure, often containing
sultanas, like a thick raisin-bread-thing, small and flat, cooked
traditionally on a griddle and served cut in half horizontally and filled
with whipped cream and fine strawberry jam (mmm-mmmm!). Or just butter
them. Over here it's the ideal accompaniment for your Earl Grey at
afternoon tea and that would be a consummately English thing to do. If you
go to an English tea-shoppe they're almost guaranteed to be on the menu
and a good cream scone is heavenly. Honestly. :) Pronounced 'skon' by
Lancastrians like me and other northerners, 'skoan' by most southeners,
the pronunciation of the word, along with 'bath' is a favourite part of
every 'north-south divide' argument that students in universities all over
the country regularly have. (Take my word for it, the north of England is

This Scribner-Bantam I have beside me calls a scone (exclusively 'skoan')
a thick batter cake of barley, oatmeal or wheat, which suggests to me that
they're not-the-same-thing in the States.

Trying to head this one off in the pass, as it were, biscuits are all of
those flat, crisp cake things, including the sandwich-type ones with a
cream filling, the mass-produced chocolate-covered things that kids like
to smear all over their faces, some small flat sponge-things, even and
sometimes the crisp, not so sweet things you put cheese on. Cookies, over
here, are specifically a certain type of biscuit, usually with chocolate
chips, which most strongly resemble soft cookies that have been left out
and gone hard. A pale imitation compared to a proper American soft cookie.

Den (Dennis Smith)

Table of Contents      Conclusion - Putting the Pieces Together